Q. What impressions of Shahid do you gather from the piece?
Ans. Shahid was an expatriate from Kashmir in America. He was a cancer patient. He knew all along that his end was near but he never let the fear of his approaching death sap his zest for life. Till last, he enjoyed every moment of his life to the full.
Shahid loved parties and food. There was hardly an evening when there was not a party in his living room. He would spend days over planning and preparation of a dinner party. He was very particular about the food served to the guests. He himself supervised the food cooked in the kitchen.
Shahid was a great fan of the music of Begum Akhtar whom he had met in his teens. He was full of stories about her sharpness and smart reply. Shahid himself was a master of sharpness in repartee. He had the ability to change the worldly into the magical with his sparkling wit and humour.
Shahid was a poet. His voice was at once lyrical and fiercely disciplined, engaged and yet deeply inward. He pursued a literary career and taught in various colleges and universities in America. He was very popular with his students. They almost worshipped him.
After 1975, Shahid lived mainly in America but he never forgot his homeland. He was greatly disturbed by the mounting violence that seized Kashmir from late 1980s onwards. It became one of the central subjects of his poems. Shahid was a firm believer in the separation of politics and religious practice. His outlook was inclusive.
Then a day came when the doctor stopped all his medicines and gave him a year or less. Shahid had all along been aware of his approaching end, and he had made his peace with it. His supreme consolation was that he would meet his mother in after-life, if there was an after-life. He died peacefully, in his sleep, at 2 a.m. on 8 December.
Q. How do Shahid and the writer react to the knowledge that Shahid is going to die?
Ans. Shahid had been under treatment for cancer for some fourteen months. Finally a day came when the doctors stopped all his medicines and gave him a year or less. Shahid had all along been aware of his approaching end, and he had made his peace with it. The writer had his last meeting with Shahid on the 27th October at his brother’s house in Amherst. There was no trace of pain or conflict on his face. Surrounded by his family and friends, he was calm and contended. His supreme consolation was that he would meet his mother in after-life, if there was after life. He died peacefully, in his sleep, at 2 A.M. on 8 December.
The writer was deeply shocked at Shahid’s death. It left a void in his life. He wondered how so brief a friendship could result in so vast a void. Now, when he walks into his living room, he often feels the presence of Shahid, reading them his farewell to the world: ‘I Dream I Am The Ghat Of The Only World…..’
Q. Look up the dictionary for the meaning of the word ‘diaspora’. What do you understand of the Indian diaspora from this piece?
Ans. ‘Diaspora’ simply means ‘dispersion’ or ‘scattering’ as per dictionary. The ‘present extract’ The Ghat of the ‘only world’, dubs a very morbid line of Indian diaspora. First of all the writer talks about Indian citizens living in different parts of the world like America, England and so on. Their lifestyles goes with them to foreign lands. Like Shahid went to settle in Brooklyn. But his love for rogan josh and heeng never ceased, Secondly, I feel perhaps that the writer felt somewhat scattered and greatly affected due to the violent political atmosphere in his beloved State Kashmir. He wanted that politics and religion must be kept secret. He expressed his desire to die in Kashmir. It proves clearly, that in spite of all the worldly luxuries his soul craved to touch his home land. So it was an ‘Emotional diaspora’ on the part of Shahid, which I feel every Indian settled in foreign land must be suffering from.